DIY Fabric Badge

Badges have been used for centuries to display rank, profess allegiance, advertise political stance, or simply to delight. They can be made from all sorts of materials (fabric, leather, metal, plastic, natural materials) and have long been recognised as a way of sharing information at a glance. So we thought “What better way to promote interest in the 12 founding Permaculture Principles that make a set of badges to wear out and about??”.

These badges are designed to be attached to clothing or fabric with needle & thread, but if you make small enough badges you could attach a safety pin to the back to make a removable badge too.

Materials:

  • Scrap fabric. Calico and felt work really well, but see Notes for more possibilities
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery yarn
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Method

1. Work out what size you want your finished badge to be and draw that shape outline on the fabric you want to be the front of your badge.

2. Draw a border 3-5mm in from the edge of the badge outline. This will be the width of your edging.

3. Draw your design/lettering inside your border. See Notes for a nifty trick on transferring great designs easily.

4. Cut a length of embroidery yarn roughly 60cm long. If you have standard DMC (or similar) embroidery yarn, split it into 2 lots, each containing 3 strands. You can go a bit thicker if you like, but the design ends up less detailed the thicker you stitch.

5. Tie a knot at one end of the thread, then pull the other end through the eye of the needle and and let it go when it’s halfway down the length of the longer side.

6. Choose a point on your design to start and pull your needle & thread through from the back to the front so the knot stays at the back.

7. Use Backstitch to sew over the lines of your design.

8. Once you have finished stitching your design, cut a piece of thicker fabric (we used felt) to cover the back of your badge. It helps if it’s a little larger than the outline of your badge.

9. Using Running Stitch, sew along the border, making sure to go through both the front and the back fabrics. This attaches the thicker backing and also provides a handy guide for the edging you’ll do shortly.

10. Using sharp scissors, cut around the outline of your badge so that both pieces of fabric end up the same size.

11. Pick a point just inside the running stitch border you sewed to begin your edging and pull your needle & thread through from the back to the front.

12. Using a basic Whip Stitch, but stitching very close together with each whip around, work your way around the badge to sew a solid edging. You will likely have to tie off your thread and re-thread your needle once or twice while doing the edging as it uses up a fair bit of thread.

13. Once your edge is finished, tie off the thread, and you’re done!

NOTES

* You can use all sorts of fabrics to make these badges. Calico works really well for the front as it’s easy to sew but has some thickness to it, and felt works brilliantly for the same reason. But look at what you have, and use that first. Old denim is great for adding backing, and cotton t-shirts can make a good front layer, so it’s worth raiding the rag basket too. If you don’t have thicker fabric for the backing, just use a few more layers of whatever you have until it feels a bit more sturdy.

* You can often pick up embroidery thread at the op-shop, but it’s also worth asking any crafty friends if they have leftovers. If you’ve ever completed a cross-stitch kit, you’ll know how much thread you get left with!

*If you don’t have embroidery thread, you can investigate other ways of using what you have – here are a few options.

* To get super-professional designs and lettering on your badge, you can use a smartphone or tablet like a lightbox! Simply look up the image you want, or use a design program like Canva to type up the words you want, set the screen brightness to Maximum, then carefully lay your fabric over the screen and gently trace the design onto it. Use pencil and don’t push too hard – you can always go over it again once it’s off the screen.

*Badges are absolutely brilliant gifts for young and old, so why not consider making one for a freind’s birthday?!

Permaculture Principle 6: Produce no waste; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.

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